I just started eating quinoa a few months ago after I discovered its interesting texture, taste, and nutrient-rich profile. But I was getting sick of my usual, boring preparation of just cooking it in chicken broth and serving it plain on the side of a protein. This Kale Quinoa Salad, however, has rekindled my love for the ancient grain. The flavors were so bold and melded beautifully together. In one bite I could taste the bitterness from the kale, the sweetness from the dried fruit, the spiciness from the red pepper flakes, the tartness from the lemon, the tangy-ness from the balsamic, and the saltiness from, well...the salt. This dish was so good I made it again for lunch the next day. I loved knowing I was eating such a healthy meal that would keep me full for hours. What's even better, is that it is so easy to make that it's guaranteed to be delicious, even on your first attempt.
I made a few substitutions to this recipe simply because I didn't have some of the ingredients. Instead of currants, I used dried cherries. I was worried the tart flavors of the cherries would clash with the lemon zest, but I actually tasted more of their sweetness. When I went to the grocery store, pine nuts were selling for $9 for what looked to be like a handful. I was aghast by this crazy high price so I decided to just use the almonds I had stored in my freezer. It was great! I didn't miss the pine nuts at all. To serve, I took Lisa's suggestion of mounding the kale mixture over the quinoa so I could decide what proportion of quinoa to kale I would like for each bite. I also seared a chicken breast to make it feel like a more complete meal. This extra protein, however, was not needed since the quinoa itself is protein-packed. My final addition to this dish was to serve it with some Crispy Kale Chips. When broiled to a crisp, kale takes on a very nutty and rich flavor. I love that I feel like I'm eating potato chips, but knowing I actually giving my body a healthy dose of vitamins. In the end, I was ultimately impressed that such a delicious dish only took me 15-20 minutes to prepare from start to finish.